Building materials dealers under the auspices of Coker Building Materials and Allied Products Dealers Union, (CBM&APDU) at the end of their 40th anniversary lamented the adverse impact of rising foreign exchange on their profitability.
They also called on the Federal Government to monitor the quality of imported goods entering the country saying that the influx of substandard materials is badly affecting the cost of products in use in the country. They argued that the circulation of substandard products in the market has worsened in recent times hence the need for government to fish out the bad eggs in the sector. Speaking during the anniversary, a member of the association, Chief Michael Ugokwe, also urged the gov- ernment to intervene by blacklisting those illegally bringing materials into the country.
Ugokwe also advised the government to spend more on capital projects to help the middle class and the low income investors to patronise the building materials market considering it remains the highest spender in the economy.
In his speech, the President of CBM&APDU, Mazi Justin Okpani, who raised the issue on the sidelines of the Association’s 40th anniversary in Lagos said, although the building and plumbing materials market is a lucrative business, the greatest problem encountered by the operators is low turnover resulting from Nigeria’s poor economic situation.
He said, “Some of the substandard products brought into Nigeria are from Chinese companies and they have a way of beating government agencies. So when they now bring it at a relatively cheap cost, it would fall back on those who import standard and quality products. The competition is so severe but those who value quality still patronise us.
“There are policy and rules guiding importation of fake building products however, the greatest problem is implementation. If government can step up its enforcement, it would be able to curtail inflow of substandard building materials into the country.”
He called on the government to cut the cost of clearing goods, which it observed was too high compared to what it used to be in the past while measures should be put in place to reduce the cost and the time of clearing goods at the ports. “It takes an average of a month to bring goods from the Wharf and that shouldn’t be the case. A week should be enough to bring in goods. The road to the Apapa Wharf is not really friendly and our containers are falling every time due to bad road. The government needs to reduce the tariff and give incentives to those that are bringing good into the country, especially when it has to do with agriculture, water pumps and fire-fighting equipment. The import duties on such sensitive items should be reduced.”
Okpani said operators must be made to register their goods and products with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria and NAFDAC to guard against infiltration of adulterated products into the market. “Though, you can’t beat them because what they do is that the bad goods are often off loaded outside of the market be- cause the Association’s task force department doesn’t tolerate such.”